Afternoon Alert   -   Thursday, May 19, 2022
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Broadcasters led with the Health Ministry advisory panel’s draft recommendation for facemasks to be removed outdoors if conversations with others are limited (NHK), an update on the Yamaguchi resident who was arrested for allegedly gambling away some of the 46.3 million yen ($359,000) in COVID-19 relief payments that was erroneously deposited into his account (NTV, TV Asahi, TBS), and the imminent start of a new search operation for the 12 individuals missing after a tour boat sank off Hokkaido in late April.


CDC to open regional office in Tokyo

TBS reported that it has learned from U.S. and Japanese government sources that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is making final arrangements to set up a regional office in Tokyo and planning to announce the opening on the occasion of President Biden’s visit to Japan starting on May 22. The network said the new CDC office is expected to cover East Asia and Oceania and deal with a wide range of public health challenges, including the response to infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The broadcaster also said the governments of the United States and Japan have been stepping up their cooperation in the healthcare sector, including the distribution of vaccines, and that establishing a new CDC office in Tokyo will likely be a new pillar of cooperation.

National Security Advisor Sullivan outlines agenda for summit with Japanese leader

NHK reported that National Security Advisor Sullivan spoke about President Biden’s upcoming East Asian tour during a press conference on Wednesday. He said the trip will be an extremely important opportunity to demonstrate America’s leadership in the Indo-Pacific, which, like Europe, is "another vital region." The White House official said the President will officially announce the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) while in Tokyo in the presence of Prime Minister Kishida, adding that some ASEAN leaders are expected to take part in the launch event remotely. Regarding IPEF, he was quoted as saying: “It is a 21st century economic arrangement, a new model designed to tackle new economic challenges — from setting the rules of the digital economy, to ensuring secure and resilient supply chains, to managing the energy transition, to investing in clean, modern, high-standards infrastructure.”

Senior White House official mentions possibility of imminent DPRK provocation

NHK took up a press conference on Wednesday by National Security Advisor Sullivan, during which he mentioned that North Korea may stage additional provocations, such as an ICBM launch and/or a nuclear test during President Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan that begins on Friday. “Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility that there will be either a further missile test, including long-range missile test, or a nuclear test, or frankly both, in the days leading into, on, or after the president's trip to the region,” the top security official said. “We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a provocation would occur while we are in Korea or in Japan.” He added that the United States is prepared to make “both short and longer-term adjustments” to its military posture in order to respond to all types of DPRK provocations and ensure the defense of its allies in the region.

Japan, U.S. to cooperate on Moon landing by Japanese astronaut (Kyodo News)

OPINION: Remembering Mineta as unselfish Japanese American (Kyodo News)

Opinion: Joe Biden must recognize the clear and present dangers facing Japan (Nikkei Asia)

Global logistics under pressure from Russia’s invasion (The Japan News)

Commentary: West needs to accept India’s neutrality on Ukraine war (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Japan, Europe need stronger defense cooperation to deter China (Japan Forward)

Cartoon: Santa to skip home visits? (Asahi)


Chinese ships spotted near Senkakus for 33rd consecutive day (Sankei)

Chinese bombers pass between Okinawa Islands (Jiji Press)

The reality of the stability-instability paradox (Voice)

As tensions rise in East Asia, SDF deployed to Okinawa grows in importance (Sankei)

50 years on: Life expectancy falling in Okinawa (Jiji Press)

Cartoon: Article 9 stands ground (Akahata)


Japan to increase oil subsidy beyond cap (Jiji Press)

Japanese builder Tokyu wins $338m bid to dig Manila subway tunnels (Nikkei Asia)

Focus: Japan economy may rebound but faces headwind amid price surge (Kyodo News)

Criticism rises in Japan on WHO’s tobacco-related denial of vaccine (The Asahi Shimbun)

Japan’s GDP shrank 0.2% in Q1 on inflation, omicron wave (Nikkei Asia)

Editorial: Map out a clear strategy to attract big investments (The Japan News)


Kishida eager to maintain grip on his own faction to rein in Hayashi

Kyodo reported that Prime Minister Kishida has been participating in regular meetings of his own LDP faction even after being elected LDP president and becoming premier last autumn. Unlike most of his predecessors, who left their factions upon assuming the top portfolio, Kishida continues to chair his own faction and has attended at least one weekly meeting a month. The article claimed that the premier is wary that Foreign Minister Hayashi, who belongs to the same faction, has been attending the meetings more frequently than him, probably in a bid to realize his publicly stated ambition to become prime minister in the future. “The prime minister is afraid that his grip on his own faction will loosen if he chooses not to attend regular meetings,” said an unnamed faction source.

Prime minister’s schedule on May 18, 2022 (Sankei)

Exclusive: Japan ruling camp mulling corporate tax hike (Jiji Press)

Japan Innovation Party introduces policies in manga format (The Japan News)


Kishida Cabinet buoyed by broad-based, tenuous public support, Asahi poll (The Asahi Shimbun)


METI to include hydrogen and ammonia promotion in clean energy strategy (Nikkei)


Over 40% of students who have studied abroad are interested in working at startups, poll (NIKKEI Business Daily)

Keio University produced largest number of startups in fiscal 2021 (Nikkei)


Papers sent to prosecutors over illegal money transfers to North Korean IT developer (The Japan News)

N. Korean gets money for making app for Japan firm in deceptive deals (Kyodo News)

Japan visitors down 95% in April from 2019, small tours to open soon (Kyodo News)


Okinawa police arrest U.S. Air Force civilian workers on drug charges

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times reported that the Okinawa Police arrested on Tuesday two U.S. Air Force civilian employees, a man, 59, and his wife, 57, on charges of possessing a small amount of marijuana at their home in Chatan. According to the Okinawa police, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service provided information that the couple might possess marijuana. The police reportedly entered their house early Tuesday morning and confiscated several items, including marijuana stored in plastic bags and bottles. The two suspects reportedly admitted the charges.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo Media Analysis and Translation Team